Vitamin D for cardiovascular health

Hundreds of peer-reviewed research articles demonstrate the critical role of vitamin D for our health. These roles include, but are not limited to:

Vitamin D

– Proper nutrient absorption from food
– Healthy immune system
– Cancer prevention and recovery
– Cardiovascular disease (today’s topic)

The mind-blowing part of this discussion is the simple fact that many Americans are deficient in vitamin D. How can this be? There is wide-spread awareness for vitamin D requirements, it’s easy to get — we make it upon exposure to the sun (ultraviolet B, to be specific), and much of our food is fortified with vitamind D (milk, breakfast cereals, soy products, etc.). Nonetheless, about 40% of men and 50% of women in the United States are deficient in this crutial nutrient.

An article published in the American Journal of Cardiology has analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey spanning a four year period to look at correlations between vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular diseases in various age, race, and gender groups. Their finding show a clear correlation between the degree of vitamin D deficiency and the types/frequency of cardiovascular diseases.

Several lines of evidence suggested that [vitamin D deficiency] may contribute to cardiovascular diseases by stimulating renin expression, proliferation of cardiomyocytes and smooth muscle cells, secondary hyperparathyroidism, and inflammation.

In addition, higher prevalence of [vitamin D deficiency] in those with both coronary heart disease and heart failure may have been caused by limited physical activity and sunlight exposure as a result of cardiovascular diseases.

However, it has been shown that patients with heart failure and healthy controls differed in vitamin D–associated lifestyle factors in their earlier lives, suggesting that [vitamin D deficiency] may precede cardiovascular diseases.

While the article provides mechanisms by which vitamin D can maintain cardiovascular health, this association may be rooted in the simple fact that the majority of people who suffer from cardiovascular diseases make poor lifestyle choices.

– They do not exercise often (this in turn reduced their sunlight-induced vitamin D production).
– Even when they’re outdoors,  the heavy use of sunblock reduces vitamin D production.
– Poor diet. I doubt fast food is subsidized with vitamin D, and I question the absorption of vitamin D from fortified foods.

The solution for cardiovascular health comes back to an active lifestyle which includes plenty of exercise (with exposure to the sun), and proper eating habits.

References:
Kim DH, Sabour S, Sagar UN, Adams S, Whellan DJ.
Prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in cardiovascular diseases.
Am J Cardiol. 2008 Dec 1;102(11):1540-4.

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12 Comments

  1. You have to be sure of which form of vitamin D you are getting for it to be beneficial to health – http://www.sciencebase.com/science-blog/vitamin-d-dilemma.html

  2. […] Lifestyle considerationsThe prevalence of MS directly correlates with distance from the equator (increase in latitude). Experts have explained this trend in the context of decreased exposure to sunlight and seasonal vitamin D deficiencies. This explanation is affirmed by studies showing that risk of MS is reduced in populations who are exposed to increased sunlight/UV, as well as in those who take vitamin supplements. Vitamin D has potent immunoregulatory properties and in disease models, vitamin D3 prevents autoimmune-based inflammation of the brain and spinal cord that leads to myelin damage. Alarmingly, reports indicate that 40-50% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. […]

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